Book Review: The Way Home by Mark Boyle

Monday, June 3, 2019

Title: The Way Home
Author: Mark Boyle
Publication Date: 3rd June 2019
Price (at time of writing): $39.99AUD

Synopsis: "It was 11pm when I checked my email for the last time and turned off my phone for what I hoped would be forever.

No running water, no car, no electricity or any of the things it powers: the internet, phone, washing machine, radio or light bulb. Just a wooden cabin, on a smallholding, by the edge of a stand of spruce.

In this honest and lyrical account of a remarkable life without modern technology, Mark Boyle, author of The Moneyless Man, explores the hard won joys of building a home with his bare hands, learning to make fire, collecting water from the stream, foraging and fishing.

What he finds is an elemental life, one governed by the rhythms of the sun and seasons, where life and death dance in a primal landscape of blood, woof, muck, water, and fire - much the same life we have lived for most of our time on earth. Revisiting it brings a deep insight into what it means to be human at a time when the boundaries between man and machine are blurring."

My thoughts: This was a wonderful read for me - I love books that mix a kind of memoir-style with a focus on slow or 'simple' living and this one absolutely hit the mark for me. (Pun not intended - sorry!) I feel like this is something I will be picking up again to reread from time to time, to get my priorities back in check. Whilst I appreciate everything that technology does for me - connecting me to the outside world (due to my chronic illnesses and the oft-necessary isolation that they bring) being one of the most important - I am wary of being 'connected' all the time. I think something is lost when we live our lives completely online, and I really enjoyed watching Mark Boyle explore what technology meant to him, how he wanted to let it impact upon his life, and what he chose to prioritise instead.

This book can be intense at times, but also remarkably cozy, and I highly recommend it for anyone out there who, like me, prefers the slower things in life.

(I received an e-galley of this from Netgalley and OneWorld Publications, and a review copy from Allen & Unwin in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts shared above are my own. Thank you to the platforms and publications that shared this wonderful book with me!!)

A favourite line from the book: 'You never forget the moment you first make a fire by friction. It feels primal, elemental, fundamental, essential. Any apocalyptic fears of economic collapse one might harbour would melt away at the vision of that primary, primeval incandescent coal, offering not only the promise of cooked food and warmth, but the reassuring knowledge that all is in hand.'

You would like this book if: You enjoy nature writing, slow living, exploration of what technology does to our experience of living, and a little bit of memoir thrown in for good measure.

Tea to drink while reading this book: Perhaps some billy tea, made on a campfire, swung well, and a bit of fresh milk?

Rating:  10/10

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